Food and Healthy Weight

Nurturing wellness in children and families

The Food and Healthy Weight theme is a cross-cutting theme in ActEarly. We bring together people with a keen interest in enhancing food systems, improving access of healthy, affordable food and cultivating local environments for health in children and families and to drive policy and practice for the prevention of childhood obesity and promotion of healthy eating amongst children and families in Bradford and Tower Hamlets.

At the heart of ActEarly, our work is built on a solid partnership, leveraging insights from different knowledge bases and experiences, joint by our commitment to develop action-oriented, tangible evidence to improve child and family health.

Collaborating hand-in-hand with community organisations, local governments in Bradford and Tower Hamlets, we co-create processes to design and action interventions, while ensuring we carry out rigorous evaluations so that our projects can have a lasting impact in local children and families.

Our projects focus on targeted areas (Tower Hamlets and Bradford); child-centred approach; nutrition and food improvement; partnerships; community engagement; multiple research methods; holistic approaches; policy impact.

The core of our work is underpinned by health determinants shaping eating practices and activity levels among our ActEarly communities. We look at access to affordable food, the impact of unhealthy food advertising, the uptake and quality of free school meals and whole school approaches to food, and the role of outdoor spaces in fostering wellness. Together we work to foster a healthier, happier future for local children and families.


To view all ActEarly publications and reports please click here

Some of our work so far includes:

This project maps existing community food assets which support food insecure families in Tower Hamlets and Bradford. It seeks to understand what local support provies the most helpful options for families experiencing food insecurity. Findings will help local and national governments to invest in resources that are accessible and appropriate for local communities. To find out more, visit us here.

FIGS - Food Improvement Goals in Schools

The Food Improvement Goals in Schools (FIGS) study evaluates school food provision in a new School Food Improvement Programme “Fantastic Food in Schools” in Tower Hamlets. This initiative aims to enhance free school meal uptake and promote whole school approaches to food. Our qualitative insights will contribute to informing and refining the programme for Tower Hamlets’ primary schools.

Universal Free School Meals Quantitative Evaluation

This evaluation, from the Health Determinants Research Collaborations (HDRC) with Tower Hamlets, looks at the impact of discretionary universal free school meals schemes in the four london boroughs that have been providing the offer in primary schools.

Food consumption pattern and nutrient intakes in children living in Tower Hamlets (Action on Salt and Sugar Project): This study investigates the dietary daily patterns and nutritional uptake of children in Tower Hamlets. Key sources of saturated fats, sugars and salt will be determined to help inform upstream nutrition policies.

To find out more, visit us here.

This project maps School Food Systems and co-designed the implementation of an intervention for whole school approaches to food. We offer this online resource and free tools and support for schools. To find out more, visit us here.

Transforming Yorkshire’s Food System: this UKRI multidisciplinary linked project aims to transform the Yorkshire food system to benefit both human health and wellbeing, as well as the planet. To find out more, visit us here.

A recent initiative includes a citizen science project with 50 young people gathering data from their schools on Free School Meals allowance, which they will take themselves to a Parliamentary event.

Ethnic cut-offs for defining overweight and obesity status using NCMP data (linked)

Partnering with local health departments in London, we link the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) participants to their health records. Our research on childhood obesity’s health impact incorporates ethnic-specific BMI adjustments for children from diverse backgrounds. We support local authorities in implementing these adjustments for better health communication reflecting fairer weight categorisation and better family services.

Using child measurement to better support children and families with excess weight (linked)

The study adopts a supportive and inclusive approach to addressing child health and weight concerns in families. Through the NCMP, the project seeks to improve school engagement by promoting comprehensive health and wellbeing initiatives, focusing on families who have children identified with having excess weight.

Auto-enrolment of Free School Meals (linked)

This new project facilitates the set-up of auto-enrolment across Yorkshire and several local authorities across England. This has resulted in a significant uptake in free school meals and pupil premium funding,
supporting many children and families

Our Theme Projects:

If you'd like to know more about Food and Healthy Weight contact the team

Additional Resources

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